Deputy U.S. Marshal Zacarias Toro died June 14 of cancer reportedly connected to his work as a first responder on and immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The World Trade Center Health Program had previously deemed Toro’s illness to be a direct result of his work at Ground Zero. Due to the nature of his illness, the U.S. Marshals Service stated that Toro’s death is considered a line-of-duty death, and noted that the bravery he and many other first responders showed on 9/11 should never be forgotten. For his efforts as a first responder, Toro was presented with the Marshals Service Purple Heart Award.
Widespread issues for first responders
The World Trade Center Health Program has conducted studies indicating that first responders are often at higher risk of developing cancer due to their exposure to toxins. And other research has shown that long-term monitoring and cancer screening is necessary for first responders and those who came in direct contact at the World Trade Center site.
Many rescue and recovery workers have already been identified as victims of toxic exposure. One 2011 study found that first responders who were present at Ground Zero for one day were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than individuals with no exposure to the toxic environment.
Additionally, various types of cancer have been shown to result from Ground Zero-related work. Common cancers stemming from this exposure include thyroid cancer, soft-tissue cancers, blood and lymph cancers and prostate cancer. It is important for first responders and their families to know that cancers stemming from work completed in the aftermath of 9/11 may take years — and even decades — to actually develop.
If you or a loved one is suffering with cancer or a chronic illness related to work performed on and after 9/11, you may be eligible for certain compensation and health benefits. For more information and guidance, consult the dedicated New York attorneys at Barasch & McGarry